Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Simplicity is often a great virtue in itself, but it takes a certain amount of confidence to opt for something basic and unadorned. This cake made me reflect on the pleasure of not decorating, not icing and not flavouring. The pleasure of just letting a cake be.... It has a really wonderful flavour, and would lend itself to being paired with all sorts of toppings. But perhaps it is better to just appreciate it as is? Unfortunately it disappeared too quickly for much experimenting, so I can't really tell you.
This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's baking bible "Baking: From My Home To Yours". I followed her recipe very closely as experience thus far has shown that her cookbook and her advice is worth following. At Dorie's suggestion, I bought the best butter I could find. I then followed her recipe to the letter, especially the room temperature ingredients and the mixing times. I also used the foil tent for the last 20 mins to stop the top getting too dry. I don't have an insulated baking sheet, so my one eccentricity in this recipe was placing the loaf tin on a folded section from the Sydney Morning Herald. Don't worry - I kept a close watch for any fire risk! This was a bit of a tribute to my non-baking grandmother (I also had a baking grandmother) who once gave me a fruit cake recipe that began: "Line tin with 3 sheets of the Sydney Morning Herald...". I am not sure whether the choice of the Herald impacted on the flavour of this cake, but I would definitely make it again.
(Source: "Baking From My Home To Yours" by Dorie Greenspan)
2 cups flour
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and turn the cake out, then turn it right side up on the rack and cool to room temperature.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I made these souffles during the week because I was planning to enter the Foodie Blog Roll Joust. Each month, three ingredients are selected and it is up to the entrants to create a meal that marries the three. This month, the ingredients are fennel, dairy and parsley, and I immediately thought of making a fennel and goats cheese souffle, with either a parsley emulsion or parsley crackers (hadn't really worked that bit out). Having made the souffles, I was looking at the entries for the joust so far, and found (to my horror!!!!) that someone had entered a fennel and goats cheese souffle the day before. Check out Foodycat's beautiful souffle here. While I haven't been watching these jousts for long, I am pretty sure that entering the same meal as someone else would be a little against the spirit of the competition. So here is my non-competition fennel and goats cheese souffle. If you don't like fennel, substitute onion to infuse the milk (although the fennel is a very mild flavour in this souffle).
Fennel and Goats Cheese Souffles (Makes 4)
adapted from "Feedback" by Michele Scamps
150 ml milk
1 fennel bulb chopped, plus reserve the leafy fronds and finely chop
200g goats cheese, chopped
3 eggs, separated, whites stiffly beaten
2 tbls shallots (green onions chopped)
Preheat oven to 220C. Butter the moulds well. Place the milk and chopped fennel bulb in a small saucepan and heat gently for 10 mins. Melt the butter in another saucepan and add the flour, stir until it is a smooth paste and cook for 1 minute. Take off the heat, then strain the milk mixture into the butter and flour, and discard the fennel. Whisk quickly to get rid of lumps - the consistency you want is smooth and thick. Once it is smooth, add the goats cheese and stir in well. Add the yolks, shallots, chopped fennel fronds and season to taste. Allow the mixture to cool, then add the stiffly beaten egg whites, folding them in as gently as possible.
Spoon the mixture into moulds, filling them up to about 3/4 full. Place the moulds in a baking dish, then pour hot water into the baking dish to make a bain marie. Place carefully in the oven. Bake for 15-20 mins - until the souffles feel puffed and golden. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool a little. Once the moulds are cool enough to be handled, run a knife around the edge of each souffle and gently ease them out of their moulds onto a tray. If the bottom stays stuck in the mould, scoop it out with a spoon and pop it back on top. The souffles can be made to this point a day ahead, and kept in the fridge in an airtight container.
To serve, heat the oven to 220C. Spoon a little cream over each souffle and sprinkle with some parmesan. Cook for 10 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve immediately.
In the picture I have served it on some sauteed fennel and parsley. (Slice two large fennel bulbs thinly, then sautee in 2 tbls olive oil for 15 minutes over medium heat until soft and starting to go golden at the edges. Stir in 2 tbls chopped continental parsely and serve).
Thursday, September 25, 2008
This week's Barefoot Blogger challenge had me on firmer ground than the mac 'n' cheese or the turnover challenges - wild mushroom soup is something I know and love and have prepared many times before. In fact it is one of my favourite dinner party soups so I felt confident that this was going to go well.
The challenge was chosen by Chelle of Brown-Eyed Baker, and promised to be a nice change from some of the other Barefoot cooking we have been doing. Unfortunately (sorry Chelle), I wound up having a few unexpected issues with the recipe:
- sadly I couldn't find cremini or porcini mushrooms fresh around here (you usually only see them dried and they cost about the same as a tank of petrol), so I substituted swiss brown mushrooms for the cremini.
-my mushrooms also came caked in a little mud, and since I have had gritty mushroom soup before (not something that I would recommend), I disregarded the first instruction and rinsed them under running water. Unfortunately, I think that having the wrong mushrooms and then rinsing may have impacted the flavour of the soup.
- I used a lot less butter (2 tbls) in cooking the leeks than Ina recommends, but I think this was OK - the leeks and mushrooms all cooked and browned nicely.
- I used only half the cream Ina recommends - I was worried the soup's flavour would be completely overwhelmed by the cream unless I held back a little.
- While I followed the recipe, I generally don't like to thicken soups with flour, and with so much cream in the recipe, I suspect the soup would have quite thick without the flour.
- Once I had finished cooking, my soup had a little bit of oil rising to the surface. I tried to skim this off but could not get rid of all of it. You can see it around the edge of the bowl in the photo - not sure what I did wrong there??
Enough moaning - the flavour of the soup was good, and darling husband who loves cream of mushroom soup declared that it was "delish". I, however, will be sticking to my favourite recipe for mushroom soup which is similar to Ina's but with a lot less cream. You can see how the other members of the Barefoot Bloggers went here.Wild Mushroom Soup
from The Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten
150g fresh shiitake mushrooms
150g fresh portobello mushrooms
150g fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half (half milk and half cream)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if they are too big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 125g of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan. Add the mint, then bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced by about 1/3. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 mins to soften. Strain the cream mixture into a bowl and stir in the sugar, lime zest and tequila. Drain the gelatine and squeeze out any excess water, then stir into the hot cream mixture until it is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into six dariole moulds and allow to cool before putting them in the fridge to set completely (2-3 hours). To remove the panacotta from the moulds, run a palette knife around the edge, then gently ease out each pannacotta. Decorate with lime and serve.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Despite my new blogging self, underneath it all I am an old fashioned girl who still gets a newspaper delivered hard copy every day. I love everything about the paper, especially that I can rip things out like recipes, and my favourite ripping day is Tuesday when the Sydney Morning Herald publishes its food section, Good Living. It is full of food and foodie news with restaurant openings and closings, reviews, new products, feature articles, a wine column, as well as a section called Homecook Hero. Each week, the Homecook Hero features a non-professional cook who has been nominated by friends and family for their talent and passion for food. Often they are migrants with interesting back stories and I love to see them looking so proud as they share their most special recipe with the world.
This Homecook Hero recipe is from a Thai immigrant called Roong Smithisumpun, and appealed to me because the story in Good Living talked about how the local kids in the Oatley West football team all loved it. One of my current missions is to get my children eating curry, and I thought that this sounded like a good, gentle one to start with. I have now made this dish half a dozen times, and my mission appears successful: the kids like it, and even better, the adults do too.
Khao mok gai (Chicken with yellow rice)from Good Living, Sydney Morning Herald, March 6th 2007
500g chicken breast fillets (I used thigh fillets because they are more tender)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup yoghurt
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup butter (I halved this and it was fine)
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
350g jasmine rice
1 tsp curry powder (for the rice)
1 tsp roasted coriander seeds *
1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds *
¼ tsp turmeric
A pinch of pepper
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
For the spice mix: Grind the spice grind ingredients together in a mortar and pestle.
Cut the chicken into large chunks and place in a bowl with the spice mix plus the ginger, garlic and yoghurt. Stir and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 180C. Heat the oil and butter in a wok. Brown the chicken. Transfer to an ovenproof dish, reserving the oil. Cook for 15 minutes or until done. Set aside.
Put the rice in salted water, and bring to the boil. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to low and allow the pot to simmer until the rice is cooked (about 15 minutes). Reheat the reserved oil, stir in the cooked rice with the curry powder and mix well. Transfer half the rice to a large non-stick saucepan, then place half the chicken on top. Do another layer of rice and chicken then pour over the chicken's cooking juices. Warm very gently for 10-15 minutes with the lid on before serving.
* To roast the seeds, heat in a dry pan and until aromatic and slightly browned.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I am a convert! I finally see the light! Macaroni and cheese has never been a dish that has really appealed to me. Too heavy, too stodgy, too fattening, just too too too.... Friends, especially those that had lived in the US, were taken with it, but not me. I always considered it an American classic, in the way that classics from other countries will sometimes never make sense to you. (I understand these cultural divides, after all I am a girl that loves Vegemite, a classic that doesn't travel if ever there was one). I am also deeply suspicious of boxed pre-made pasta and sauce combos, and that was mostly where I saw mac 'n' cheese.
However, in the spirit of Barefoot Blogging, I was going to give it my best shot. My only compromise - I halved the ingredients. With the inclusion of blue cheese, the kids were never going to eat it, so I thought making it for one would probably be loads for my husband and I. I also added a little cayenne pepper to the flour, and the cheddar I chose was studded with red chilli, for a little bit of extra heat in the dish. The recipe was pretty simple, and I would absolutely make it again. My only (very small) quibble was the washing up. This recipe involved a remarkably large number of my pots and pans. At last count, 1 oven tray; 1 large pasta pot; 1 small saucepan; 1 medium saucepan; 1 whisk; 1 grater; 1 chopping board; 1 food processor; 1 gratin dish. All worth it.
This week's Barefoot Bloggers challenge was brilliantly chosen by Heather of Randomosity and The Girl. Thanks Heather - you have opened up a whole new dish for me. You can see what the other Barefoot Bloggers have been up to here.
Grown Up Mac and Cheese
adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Home Comforts Episode
1 cup elbow macaroni
3/4 cup milk
1 tbl unsalted butter
2 tbls flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
60g Gruyere cheese, grated
45g extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (I used one with red chilli in it)
30g Gorgonzola, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
1 slice white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1 tbl freshly chopped basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
Add the macaroni to a pot of boiling salted water and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into a gratin dishes.
Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
At the moment I feel like my life is being lived with the fast forward button jammed down. How is it already September? Why do I have days like today, when I feel like I am in a relay race where I run from A to B to C to D and so on until I collapse into bed when I reach Z? The problem with days like this is that not only is there no time to dash through the supermarket or butcher and gather something for the tribe, but there is no time to even reflect on what the tribe might like for dinner. Until of course, I am at home with two starving children and no inclination whatsoever to get back in the car and get some food.
Belinda Jeffrey to the rescue. I found this genius recipe in the "Belinda Jeffrey's 100 Favourite Recipes" cookbook, that I have referred to here before. The key ingredient is tinned salmon, which is one of those things that can be found in the back of most people's pantry, on even the most dire days. Mix in some mayonnaise to bind it together with some vegies and spices, roll patties in some bread crumbs, pan fry and serve. Children fed. Mother's sanity remains in tact. And the crowd cheers.
Red Salmon Burgers
adapted from Belinda Jeffrey's 101 Favourite Recipes
400g tinned salmon, well-drained and picked over to remove any skin or bones
2 green onions, chopped (you can substitute chives if you don't have)
3 tbls celery, finely chopped
2 tbls basil finely shredded
1/2 small red chilli (or to taste)
1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
2-3 tbls of dry breadcrumbs
oil for cooking
Crumble the salmon into large flakes in a bowl. Add green onions, basil, celery, chilli, sauces, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently then slowly add the breadcrumbs until the mixture is binding together. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes then divide it into four portions and shape each into a pattie. Place the patties on a plate and chill for at least 1/2 hour to firm them.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium low heat. Add the burgers and fry for five minutes on each side, until they are crisp and brown. Be careful when turning them so that the patties do not fall apart (I use two spatulas). Once browned on both sides, drain them on paper towel. Serve in a bun with some lettuce and extra mayonnaise if desired.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I was tele-rouletting through the channels the other night when I came across Jamie Oliver doing some one-on-one coaching for a woman who was having some of her girlfriends over for lunch. He helped her design the menu, took her shopping for the produce and then gave her his number so she could phone with any queries as she made the meal. Then, inevitably, he turned up for dessert and flirting. I know Curtis Stone does much the same sort of thing in the US. How do I make this happen to me? Why are there are no TV chefs wandering around my local supermarket when I am looking confused and trying yet again to answer the eternal question*? I need help as much as the next person! Pick me! Pick me!
The sad reality is that the closest I am going to get to Jamie designing a menu for me, is cooking the meal that he made for the lady on his show. And it did look good, and it did seem easy. Unfortunately I was too caught up in my wonderings about TV chefs to pay attention to what he did with the beef, which then forced me to buy the cookbook in question ("Return of the Naked Chef " by Jamie Oliver). He's smart that Jamie Oliver, or at least smarter than me, it would appear. And I can tell you now, that whether or not you have Jamie Oliver in your kitchen or not, this is a simple recipe that looks quite dramatic presented whole to the table, and tastes good too. And if you know Jamie Oliver, would you mind sending him round?
* In case you were wondering, the eternal question is not "what is the meaning of life?", it is "what will I cook the family for dinner?"
Roasted Fillet of Beef Rolled In Herbs and Mushrooms and Wrapped In Prosciutto
adapted from "The Return of the Naked Chef" by Jamie Oliver
12 slices prosciutto
3 cloves garlic
200g mushrooms sauteed in olive oil with one clove garlic until cooked
900g fillet of beef, whole
Fresh chopped rosemary and thyme to taste
2 glasses red winePreheat your oven and baking sheet to 230C. Lay prosciutto out on a sheet of baking paper, each slice overlapping slightly, so that you have what looks like a giant sheet of prosciutto with no gaps in it. Spread the mushrooms along the length of the prosciutto. Season the beef fillet and roll it in herbs. Lay the seasoned beef on the prosciutto and, using the baking paper, roll up the meat in the prosciutto. Once rolled, discard the paper and tie the prosciutto on firmly with kitchen string (in about four spots will do).
Put the beef on the pre-heated baking sheet with a couple of cloves of garlic, and cook for 30 mins (medium rare). Halfway through, add red wine to the tray. When the meat is done, allow it to rest for 5 mins. Tip any juices that are released by the beef, back into the tray, mix juices together and serve as a jus over the sliced beef fillet. Serve with greens and mashed potato.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
Scones with jam and cream are a lovely afternoon tea tradition that I love, especially at colder times of the year. Often referred to as a Devonshire Tea, because of a loose connection with a similar tradition in Devon in the UK, cafes and restaurants do a roaring trade. Even the local bread shops have jumped into scones with various flavours available. Unfortunately, I hate these scones - they are often the size of your head, and taste like something that should be bowled in cricket rather than eaten at tea.
Luckily making your own scones is incredibly simple, and quick. I like to make them quite small - stopping the insides from being quite as doughy as they might otherwise be. Serve them cut in half with either whipped cream, or double cream if you feel like being especially sinful. Strawberry jam is traditional, but any sort of jam that appeals to you will work.
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tbl baking powder
2 tbls sugar, plus extra for topping
1/2 tsp salt
100g unsalted butter, cold, plus extra for brushing
3/4 cup pouring cream, plus extra to serve
Preheat oven to 220C. Toss dry ingredients together, then rub in the butter. You can do this by chopping it into small pieces and literally rubbing the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, or you can mix it with a pastry blender.
Stir in the pouring cream until the mixture forms a ball of dough. Scoop up the dough and knead it gently for about 30 seconds on a floured surface. Roll it out gently (dust the surface with more flour if it is sticking) until it is about 2cm thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough (I prefer them to be about 5cm in diameter). Re-roll the scraps and cut them out as well until there is no more dough. Brush tops with a little melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Arrange scones to be at least 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake until puffed and golden, approx 10 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold, with jam and cream.